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 Principles of Politics
 
Cheer-up, America! The Case for American Optimism
American Thinker, United States Monday, October 24, 2011

Brad Lips
Brad Lips says, "Don't let this moment of maximum pessimism cloud your vision of the path ahead". Building the case for American optimism, he says, politics today are at the healthiest state, as more Americans are awakening to the notion that there is a battle of ideas to be won and are focused on issues of Constitutional principle than ever before. Lips asserts, If we stay committed at the grassroots and keep developing the sector of civil society, that's dedicated to limited government principles, the political victories and a return to the American success story - certainly will follow. Cheer up, America!

"Look for moments of maximum pessimism." To the legendary value investor Sir John Templeton, this was the secret to learning how to buy low and sell high.
In recent months, I've been feeling the pessimism in a big way. You probably have too. Watching the scroll of headlines on cable news channels this summer, I thought I was in an overdone disaster film. Riots break out across the globe, screamed a Drudge headline. Markets were crashing. An earthquake cracked the Washington Monument.  The end, surely, seems nigh.
President Obama blames this -- the credit downgrade, the Carteresque malaise, virtually all the wreckage around us -- on our politics "being broken."  Lots of Americans would agree with this assessment of their supposed representatives in Washington, D.C.
But I think they've got it all wrong. Politics today are at the healthiest state of my lifetime. And from this, I began to build the case for American optimism. Our future truly is bright.

There is a plausible case for long-term optimism about America's future. I think you should hear it, and I think you should express your gratitude to those who have the laid the groundwork for an amazing national recovery.

First and foremost, thank Barack Obama.
The first and most important step in any 12-step program is to admit you have a problem. For years and years, we pretended our addiction to government spending was manageable. We allowed our politics to be a personality contest, dominated by gotcha questions, sound bites, and cynical wedge issues. The madness reached its zenith in 2008; Obama's promise of "hope and change" will be remembered as an incredible parody of the vacuous politics to which we'd become accustomed. The candidate himself -- only four years prior, a state senator with no meaningful accomplishment to his name besides a self-aggrandizing memoir about his unaccomplished life -- was unsuited for the job of President, but perfectly suited to capture the imagination of Democratic Party voters. An eloquent, elegant black academic, Obama captured the moment and affirmed his well-wishing audience of shallow thinkers when he proclaimed: "We are the ones we've been waiting for."
Obama won the 2008 election by default, but believed he won with a mandate to implement progressive dreams. In pursuing an aggressively leftist agenda, he has done these United States a profound service; he has clarified the fundamental ideological battle at the heart of all politics -- statism vs. individualism -- and dramatized the results that flow from such statist public policies.
As a result, the American people are angrier than ever with politicians of both parties.   As I say, this is a very positive development.    More Americans are focused on issues of Constitutional principle than ever before.  They have absorbed a costly lesson about the unintended consequences of runaway government.   As a result, some politicians -- Paul Ryan and Chris Christie among them -- have talked to voters as though they were actual adults who can make hard decisions about the challenges confronting our nation.   What's driven this change from the hollow campaigns of yesterday, which got no deeper than shallow slogans like "building a bridge to the 21st century" and "putting country first"?

After thanking Obama for unwittingly catalyzing a backlash against liberal arrogance, we must thank Tea Party activists. The citizens who turned out for town hall meetings over ObamaCare, and then for Tea Party protests, deserve our eternal gratitude for concentrating on issues that matter:  the country's precarious budget situation, the dangers of nationalizing broad sectors of the economy, and the corruption that accompanies crony capitalism.

The gleam that accompanied Obama's arrival at the White House quickly dulled.  Pledges of transparency were broken. Special interests, quickly given comfy seats at the table.   Obama's old ACORN allies were exposed as without moral compass. His new appointments brought their own embarrassments. And now just a year before the 2012 election, other bubbling scandals -- over wasting taxpayer money on crony-capitalist schemes like Solyndra to benefit campaign contributors, and the mind-bogglingly shameful Operation Fast and Furious mess at ATF -- look poised to endure until Election Day.
  
There's more.
For a generation, the Democratic Party has depended upon the environmentalist movement for inspiration and for affirming their members' sensibilities as sophisticated thinkers who defer to science. The moral high ground on this issue is rapidly melting away under the feet of the Left, unlike all those Himalayan glaciers that the IPCC erroneously predicted would vanish by 2035. The "Climategate" scandal showed that global warming alarmists were willing to corrupt the peer review process and falsify data to protect their political agenda. And Al Gore hasn't had much to say about CERN's new research that makes the connections  among cosmic rays, cloud formations, and temperature changes. These deep thoughts cast new doubt on the idea that human behavior is a prime mover in climate change.

Younger voters will be more immune to the race card -- the greatest weapon in the Left's arsenal.  The emergence of "that's racist!" as a punchline surely signals that actual racism is mostly extinct in most (though not all) American communities. Republican politicians were uniformly gracious about the outcome of the 2008 election. This was smart and right. The election of a black President was a significant milestone in this country's long struggle to atone for the sins of slavery and segregation. The historic moment also means that racism in America is no longer a large concern, and it certainly isn't a partisan concern.

All of the above suggests that the policy environment and the political stage are becoming less friendly to big government and its Democrat allies.  
None of the above is to say that Republicans won't screw up the big opportunities in front of them, as is their wont.
But let's imagine, for a moment, that a Republican presidential candidate is elected with a mandate to undo the statism of Obama (and of Bush before him).  America very likely could  boom. Businesses are sitting on as much as $2 trillion, in cash. Once we lift the current fog of economic uncertainty (over taxes, housing, health care, and other regulatory burdens), investment could jolt the U.S. economy back to life.
The icing on the cake will be a boom in energy production. It's startling to read of the oil and natural gas reserves now retrievable within the U.S., in North Dakota for example, thanks to new technology. The only thing lacking is the political will to authorize increased exploration. Obama can't do it without alienating the environmentalists who are crucial to his reelection.  A new Republican President would have no such disincentive. America, your best days are ahead.

How do we get from here to there? 

Tax and entitlement reform:
Throughout his Presidency, Obama has made it impossible for business owners to predict their future tax liabilities. Within weeks of renewing the Bush tax cuts, he began campaigning to let them expire in two years. Businesses will hire again when tax rates are set for the long-term (preferably, reducing marginal rates while also eliminating wasteful exemptions in the US Tax Code). Similarly, responsible budget-cutting and entitlement reform will earn a sigh of relief from credit markets.

Monetary reform that removes the punch bowl from the Fed:
Our government has misused its authority over the dollar. It's supposed to protect that value of the dollar, not debase it to accommodate government over-spending. There are creative proposals, like offering a gold-backed U.S. bond, to restore discipline to the Federal Reserve, which is essential for long-term economic growth.

Spending caps and setting priorities:
Cutting back the federal leviathan will take time and discipline, but we need to begin by setting spending caps, creating sunset dates for all federal programs, and setting priorities within the budget process so programs compete among themselves for this capped amount of taxpayers' dollars.

Laying the groundwork for true prosperity also will involve letting the real estate market finds its bottom, repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with patient-centered medicine, killing the "too big to fail" concept, and vastly scaling back Washington's regulations and mandates. 
 
Slaying the Big Government Goliath will require growing and strengthening the freedom movement's "army of Davids" -- ordinary citizens who are connected to limited government think tanks and advocacy groups -- all using the new media to inform the public and mobilize effective political engagement. It's folly to put faith in a political leader; real change will be driven by changing the incentive structure for politicians across the spectrum. We do that by increasing public pressure for limited-government reforms.   
Our early progress towards this end is the single most important reason for optimism. 

A majority of Americans are awakening to the notion that there is a battle of ideas to be won, which transcends any particular electoral battle. As we've seen, there is reason to believe the defenders of big government are seeing their power structures melt away. If we stay committed at the grassroots and keep developing the sector of civil society, that's dedicated to limited government principles, the political victories -- and a return to the American success story -- certainly will follow.

Don't let this moment of maximum pessimism cloud your vision of the path ahead.  Cheer up, America! It's time to go long on the U.S. of A.

This article was published in the American Thinker on Monday, October 24, 2011.
Author : Brad Lips is the CEO of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which has built a network of more than 400 free-market think tanks in the United States and 81 other countries.
Tags- Find more articles on - civil society | democratic party environmentalist movement | hope and change | leftist agenda | limited government | Maximum pessism | Republican president | statism of Obama | statism vs. indivisualism

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